|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on June 4, 2021|
At the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia's presidential envoy, coordinator for cooperation with China and coordinating minister, will visit China from June 5 to 9. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan will co-chair the inaugural meeting of the China-Indonesia high-level dialogue cooperation mechanism in the city of Guiyang.
CCTV: You just announced that State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan will co-chair the inaugural meeting of the China-Indonesia high-level dialogue cooperation mechanism. Could you share more on this? How does China see its relations with Indonesia at present?
Wang Wenbin: The China-Indonesia high-level dialogue cooperation mechanism is the integrated result of three vice-premier level mechanisms covering political security, economy and people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The new mechanism will help both sides to pool resources, form greater synergy and promote all-round in-depth post-COVID cooperation in a more efficient and pragmatic manner.
The inaugural meeting of this mechanism bears great significance and both sides have high hopes for it. Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia's coordinator for cooperation with China and Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, will visit China in his capacity as presidential envoy appointed by President Joko Widodo, which demonstrates the high importance Indonesia attaches to relations with China and this meeting. The two sides will be guided by the strategic consensus of our heads of state, blueprint future development of bilateral relations, exchange views on political, economic, people-to-people, cultural, maritime, anti-epidemic and other key areas of cooperation to strive for greater progress in our comprehensive strategic partnership.
China and Indonesia are both major developing countries and emerging economies with much in common. We share wide common interests and enjoy broad space for cooperation. Faced with the onslaught of COVID-19, our two countries stood together to overcome the difficulties and advance anti-epidemic and development cooperation, becoming a model for cooperation based on sincerity and mutual benefit. Going forward, China stands ready to work with Indonesia to act on our heads of state's consensus, make full and good use of the high-level dialogue cooperation mechanism platform, and work for more outcomes in our friendly relations in the post-pandemic era to benefit people in both countries and the region.
Financial Times: Anthony Fauci has called on China to release the medical records of nine Chinese individuals, including three from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, who got sick in late 2019. Is China open to releasing the medical records?
Wang Wenbin: The Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of sciences has issued a statement on March 23. According to the statement, the Wuhan Institute of Virology had not been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 before December 30, 2019, and a "zero-infection" record is kept among its staff and graduate students so far.
This January, the China-WHO joint mission made field trips to institutions including the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control, the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and visited biosafety laboratories and had in-depth and candid exchanges with experts there. Through these field trips and in-depth visits, members of the mission unanimously agreed that the hypothesis of lab leaking is extremely unlikely.
Meanwhile, I also want to point out that there are increasingly more reports on the virus and COVID-19 pandemic being spotted in various places around the world in the second half of 2019, and that the international community is highly concerned about the questions around the biological lab at Fort Detrick and the real intentions of the US' establishment of 200-plus overseas bio-labs. We hope the US side will follow China's example, take a scientific and cooperative attitude, invite WHO experts for origin-tracing study in the US, and make a responsible explanation to the international community without further delay on the real situation of more than 200 US biological laboratories around the world, so as to make positive contribution to the humanity's early victory over the pandemic and better capabilities in dealing with public health emergencies in the future.
Reuters: Today Japan will deliver to Taiwan 1.24 million doses of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for free, more than doubling their current stores, what's China's comment on this? Japan has indicated it's a friendly gesture, does China also see it this way?
Wang Wenbin: I noted relevant reports. China's position on this was already articulated. The mainland and Taiwan are one family. Our hearts are with our Taiwan compatriots who are faced with the grave situation. We have always made clear the readiness to do our utmost to help our compatriots in Taiwan overcome the difficulties at an early date.
However, despite the goodwill of the mainland and the eagerness of the majority of Taiwan compatriots to use vaccines from the mainland, the DPP authorities tried every means to obstruct the shipping of vaccines from the mainland to Taiwan, and even falsely claimed that the mainland was obstructing its vaccine procurement. For their own selfish political gains, the DPP authorities constantly seek political manipulation over anti-epidemic cooperation, showing disregard of the lives and health of Taiwan compatriots and violating the basic humanitarian spirit.
Epidemic prevention and control is the most important task and people's lives should be given top priority. I would like to advise the Taiwan authorities to focus on scientific epidemic prevention and control, remove man-made political obstacles, and ensure that the lives, health, interests and well-being of our Taiwan compatriots are effectively protected.
China always supports anti-epidemic cooperation and has made positive contributions to this end. We hope that relevant parties will earnestly follow through on the original aspiration of providing vaccines to save lives, rather than be obsessed with political posturing.
Shenzhen TV: The 2021 ASEAN-China Media Cooperation Forum was held online and offline recently. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, what special significance does the forum have for the future development of China-ASEAN relations?
Wang Wenbin: I noticed that, co-sponsored by China International Publishing Group (CIPG) and the ASEAN-China Centre (ACC), the 2021 ASEAN-China Media Cooperation Forum was held on June 2. The forum was attended by officials, experts and scholars and representatives from media organizations and think tanks from China and the 10 ASEAN members who had exchanges and discussion under the theme of "Thirty Years On: A New Chapter for ASEAN-China Win-Win Cooperation".
This year marks the 30th anniversary of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN. Over the past 30 years, China and ASEAN have taken the seized the opportunities of the times, continuously enhanced cooperation, and jointly rose up to difficulties and challenges. Together, we have made remarkable achievements, benefiting 2 billion people in our 11 countries. Exchanges and cooperation in the media field, as an important part of China-ASEAN relations, have broad space and great potential and play an important role in promoting bilateral relations and enhancing exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations. Participants of the forum said that media organizations of China and ASEAN countries should give full play to their advantages, tell good stories about the bilateral cooperation, and contribute more wisdom and strength to maintaining the sustained and steady development of China-ASEAN relations and building the China-ASEAN community with a shared future.
China is ready to work with ASEAN countries to take the 30th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations as an opportunity to review past experience, chart the course for the future, upgrade cooperation in various fields including media, and take China-ASEAN relations to a new level.
Kyodo News: Chinese coast guard ships have been patrolling near the "Senkaku Islands" for 112 days running. This is the strongest "intervention" by China since the Japanese government "nationalized" the islands in 2012. Japan has protested over this on many occasions. Does China have any response?
Wang Wenbin: The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands are inherent Chinese territory. The patrol and law enforcement activities by China Coast Guard in these waters are legitimate and lawful measures to safeguard sovereignty. We once again seriously urge Japan to abide by the four-point principled consensus between China and Japan and jointly uphold peace and stability in the East China Sea.
Reuters: President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Thursday that bans U.S. entities from investing in dozens of Chinese companies with alleged ties to defense or surveillance technology sectors, what's the ministry's comment on this? How does China see this compared to similar legislation under former president Trump?
Wang Wenbin: The US government uses the catch-all concept of national security and abuses state power to suppress and restrict Chinese enterprises in all possible means. China is firmly opposed to that. What the US has done violates the law of the market and undermines the rules and order of the market. It has harmed not only the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, but also the interests of global investors, including US investors. China urges the United States to respect the laws and principles of the market, remove various so-called lists formulated to suppress Chinese companies, and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business and investment environment for Chinese companies. China will take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.
Bloomberg: A related question regarding the blacklist again. The Chinese state media has hailed Vice Premier Liu He's recent two calls with the US as marking the start of normal communications on economy and trade. My question is, will this blacklist derail those efforts at restarting normal communications on economy and trade? What might be next for US-China relations given this blacklist. What can we expect?
Wang Wenbin: I would like to stress that China-US economic and trade ties are mutually-beneficial. The two sides share a wide range of common interests. With regard to problems in these ties, we always believe that they should be resolved properly in the spirit of mutual respect and equal consultation. We are firmly against the US politicizing economic and trade issues, stretching the national security concept and abusing state security apparatus to wantonly suppress and restrict Chinese companies. We urge the US to respect market laws and principles and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business and investment environment for Chinese enterprises.
Beijing Youth Daily: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) non-governmental friendship forum kicked off yesterday. What is the significance of this forum as the SCO celebrates its 20th anniversary this year?
Wang Wenbin: On June 3, the SCO non-governmental friendship forum opened in Wuhan. This is the first time that the SCO has held a high-level forum with the theme of non-governmental friendship. It is also an important event held by China this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the SCO. China attaches great importance to this forum. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the forum, in which he expressed the confidence that the forum would become an important platform for all parties to enhance mutual understanding, deepen friendship and strengthen cooperation. Xi said he hopes that all parties will uphold the Shanghai Spirit, stay committed to the SCO's original aspirations, work together, help and support each other, and deepen cooperation. He said that we should leverage the advantages of non-governmental diplomacy and expand channels for people-to-people exchanges, so as to make contributions to the SCO's development.
With the theme of promoting people-to-people friendship and carrying forward the Shanghai Spirit, the forum was attended and addressed by Shen Yue-yue, Vice Chair of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China and Chair of the Committee of Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation of the SCO. Leaders of relevant SCO member states, SCO Secretary-General, diplomatic envoys of relevant countries in China and representatives of non-governmental organizations attended the meeting either online or offline.
Since last year, the SCO countries have conducted extensive non-governmental exchanges, giving strong support to the anti-virus response and demonstrating the great strength of people working in solidarity. The SCO non-governmental friendship forum will encourage all social sectors to engage in the cause of bringing our people even closer, strengthen the sense of community with a shared future, and enhance mutual understanding and friendly cooperation, to ensure greater success of the SCO under the new circumstances.
Xinhua News Agency: The forced grounding of a Ryanair passenger plane in Minsk has been in the spotlight worldwide. The Belarusian state television aired a program on what it said had happened. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has decided by the end of last month to conduct a fact-finding investigation into the incident. The US will re-impose economic sanctions against nine Belarusian state-owned enterprises starting from June 3. Could I have China's comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: We have taken note of relevant reports. Parties concerned should assess and handle this incident in line with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and international law on the basis of facts and evidence, refrain from taking a selective approach and double standard, and avoid politicization. It is hoped that all parties will remain rational and handle the issue in accordance with law.
Financial Times: I wanted to follow up on the question about the medical records of the nine individuals. Could these records be made available? And then a second question, you said that there was no one sick with COVID-19 before December. Were there staff members who were sick with other potential illnesses? Will China be willing to release the medical records of those individuals if there are any?
Wang Wenbin: I will take these two questions together. I have just stated China's position on relevant issue. To give you some more information, according to US media reports, in April 2020, Francis S. Collins, Director of the US National Institutes of Health, wrote to a number of heads of US research institutions, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, dismissing the Wuhan lab hypothesis as a conspiracy. Not long ago, Michael R. Gordon, an American journalist, by quoting a so-called "previously undisclosed US intelligence report," hinted a far-fetched connection between the "three sick staff" of a Wuhan lab and the COVID-19 outbreak. Nineteen years ago, it was this very reporter who concocted false information by citing unsubstantiated sources about Iraq's "attempt to acquire nuclear weapons", which directly led to the Iraq war. Now, this same person, with similar means of falsely quoting anonymous information, hypes up the Wuhan lab hypothesis that stretched any semblance of credibility.
On the issue of virus origin-tracing, many experts in the international community have made scientific, rational, objective and impartial voices. For example, Peter Daszak, member of the WHO international expert group and president of EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit non-governmental organization, said in a recent interview with CNN, "There is no evidence that this was a virus created in a lab. There is no evidence at all that it ever was in a lab. We found about over 500 of these bat coronaviruses in collaboration with our colleagues in China. We arrange the field work. We manage the work that's done. We see all the data that comes through from the lab as soon as it's done. In fact, we've worked with the lab in Wuhan for 15 years now. We know everything they do. And we know that they do not have that virus in the lab. I've worked with this group for 15 years. I've never seen any evidence of anyone saying things that aren't true, or even hinting of anything untoward from that lab. It just did not happen." We hope those spreading the "lab-leak theory", be it individuals or media, will take seriously these objective and correct voices.
We also hope the US side can respond to the concerns at home and abroad and give a real explanation on why it deliberately covered up the truth of the Fort Detrick lab.
Financial Times: One more follow-up from the FT. Is that a "No" to China sharing the medical records of these individuals?
Wang Wenbin: As I pointed out just now, the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of sciences has issued a statement on March 23. According to the statement, the Wuhan Institute of Virology had not been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 before December 30, 2019, and a "zero-infection" record is kept among its staff and graduate students so far. We believe that anyone who respects facts and truth will be able to find answers from this statement.
Global Times: According to media reports, the United States granted war criminals from Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army immunity from prosecution in exchange for data it accumulated in human experiments, germ experiments, bacterial warfare and poison gas experiments to conduct bio-weapon research in the US. On this very basis, the US base at Fort Derrick developed rapidly into a bio-weapon R&D base. Today there is still a US military P4 bio-lab at the base. I wonder if you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: I also noted relevant reports. It was mentioned that on the cover of three reports of Unit 731's human experiments, namely The Report of "G", The Report of "A" and The Report of "Q", there are the following words: Chemical Corps Research and Development Command, Biological Warfare Laboratories, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland; Return this correspondence to ... Post Headquarters for Records File; and the black ink print Dugway Proving Ground Technical Library. After the end of WWII, the US sent germ warfare experts at Fort Detrick to Japan over several years to learn about Japan's bacterial warfare, including from Ishii Shiro, head of Unit 731 as well as other key members. In order to obtain data and documents on the Unit's germ warfare, the US paid 250,000 yen. What's worse, the US concealed the atrocities of Ishii Shiro and Unit 731 from the world and even made Ishii Shiro a bio-weapon consultant at Fort Detrick.
As US media have exposed, Fort Detrick has in storage a lot of viruses which pose a grave threat to human safety. There are many hidden security risks and loopholes at the base. According to the analysis of experts, the distribution of the over 200 US labs around the world is highly similar to the location where some dangerous diseases and viruses were first identified. In light of the past collusion of the US military and Unit 731, we are curious as to when all these mystery-shrouded bio-military activities conducted by the US can come to light? When can the US give the international community an explanation?
Nikkei: It is said that China is to hold foreign minister talks with ASEAN countries next week. Could you share a bit more on that?
Wang Wenbin: I have nothing to share at this point.
RIA Novosti: The European Union aviation safety agency upgraded warning on Belarus air space and recommended European Union nations to instruct the airlines to avoid overflying Belarus after forced landing of Ryanair. I wonder if China gave any instructions to its air companies about not flying over Belarus?
Wang Wenbin: I haven't heard of what you mentioned. You may refer to competent authorities. I would like to reiterate that on this issue, we hope all parties will respond rationally, deal with it in accordance with the law and avoid politicization.
NHK:Japan's Ueno Zoo has announced that giant panda Shin Shin may be pregnant. What is China's comment?
Wang Wenbin: I haven't seen relevant report. What I want to say is that the giant panda is a national treasure and a name card of China. It is deeply loved by people of all countries including Japan and a well-deserved envoy of friendship. We wish Shin Shin will give birth to the cubs smoothly.
The following question is raised after the press conference:
China News Service: Could you brief us on the outcomes of the fourth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers' Dialogue held yesterday?
Wang Wenbin: The fourth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers' Dialogue was held through video link yesterday. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired the dialogue. Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi attended the dialogue. The three held an in-depth exchange of views on the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and trilateral cooperation. Two joint statements were released, one on the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and another on deepening trilateral cooperation. The dialogue also adopted a list of projects of practical cooperation. All sides commended the progress in trilateral cooperation and agreed that the foreign ministers' dialogue is an important platform for the three countries to enhance mutual understanding, deepen mutual trust and advance cooperation. They vowed to further deepen institution-building of this mechanism.
Linked by mountains and rivers, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan are together through weal and woe. The security situation in Afghanistan has a direct bearing on the stability and economic prosperity of the entire region. The main purpose of this dialogue is to strengthen trilateral communication and cooperation at a crucial stage in the evolving Afghan situation to form synergy on promoting peace and maintaining stability and to make sure the situation develops in a direction consistent with the common interests of Afghanistan and regional countries.
The three sides reached important consensus on advancing the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and on deepening trilateral practical cooperation and counter-terrorism security cooperation. All stressed that efforts should be made to practically advance the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, and realize ceasefire and end violence at an early date. The withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan should be carried out in a responsible and orderly manner to prevent the deterioration of the security situation and the return of terrorist forces. The solution to the Afghan issue should fully reflect the principle of "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned". All three support Afghanistan in becoming an independent, sovereign and neutral country that pursues a moderate Muslim policy, firmly fights against terrorism, and maintains friendly ties with other countries, especially its neighbors.
The three sides agreed to explore effective ways to deepen trilateral cooperation against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, step up cooperation in fighting the pandemic and improving people's livelihood as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and substantively expand the Belt and Road cooperation to Afghanistan, so as to bring more benefits to the people of the region.
The three sides reiterated the consensus of jointly fighting all forms of terrorism, and stressed the need to reject "double standard" on counter-terrorism, forbid any terrorist organizations or individuals from using their territories to engage in criminal activities against other countries, and strengthen joint efforts to combat the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and other terrorist forces, so as to safeguard regional security and stability.
China and Pakistan reaffirmed their firm support for peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan and their readiness to expand economic and trade exchanges with Afghanistan, assist Afghanistan in enhancing its capability for self-driven growth, and promote sustainable development in Afghanistan and the region. Afghanistan and Pakistan expressed the willingness to strengthen communication and coordination, deepen political mutual trust and create prospects for peace and cooperation.